Monday, January 31, 2011

Animal, Vegetable Miracle Thoughts: Bacteria and Dirt

Bacteria. Yuck, right? Make you sick, right? Except for the good ones. Strains that can be helpful. But have you ever noticed? We don't call them that. Bacteria, I mean. We call them cultures, or probiotics, or whatever else, just not bacteria. Somehow I don't think Activia would sell quite as much if they used "Good ole bacteria in every bite" as their slogan. And what about those commercials showing all the bacteria in your mouth. Better get yourself some good toothpaste to kill them off.

Dirt. Yuck. Nobody wants that in their house. Get it out. Out! And certainly don't get it on your clothes or put your hands in it. What? Food comes out of that? Certainly we can't eat that. It's DIRTY! Better buy your food from the grocery store where they sell clean food.

:) Just saying, we have some conceptions in our culture that we are going to have to change if we are going to eat locally and healthfully. If we are going to get a new generation of youth interested in gardening and where their foods comes from, we are going to have to get over the yuckiness of digging in the dirt. Especially if their parents aren't introducing them to those experiences at home. We are going to have to recognize the interconnectedness and balance of each organism in our environment, even bacteria and dirt.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle Thoughts: Kids in the Garden

So, if we will be forced to change how and where we get our food as the amount of fossil fuels we had dwindles, that means my life, but even more so my daughters' lives will be affected by this. They will have to eat differently. Which makes me think: How will we help them do this? What knowledge will we share with them? They will need knowledge about agriculture. About how things grow and how they can grow them. They are not (in the current system) going to get that in school.

Carla Madigan writes, in the book The Backyard Homestead, about this lifestyle being "...a way to pass along to your own children skills for self-sufficiency and to create in their minds the memory of time spent doing something practical and fun with the people they love. It's amazing to me that I can still remember so much of my food life from when I was a child. Something from those days must have stuck with me, because I've become a person who gardens, forages, bakes, makes cheese, and puts up fruits and vegetables, much like my parents did."

Yes, that is the hope that I have for my daughters. That they would have positive memories of times shared as a family and skills they can use in the future. That they would also see value in resourcefulness, frugality, the flavors of homemade food, and being good stewards of this Earth.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle Thoughts: The Future of Food

After listening to the audio book of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, there are a lot of thoughts floating around in my head. These next few blog entries will be an attempt to organize those thoughts and hopefully, urge you to think too. :)

In her book, Barbara talks about how farmers are barely making a living while the rest of us play make believe about the important part being the grocery store. For us, that's the focus, isn't it? Going to the store to pick up food. Rarely stopping to ask where it comes from or how it is grown. In grocery store sales, so little goes to the farmer who actually grew the food, making it almost impossible for farmers to make ends meet, and turning over the responsibility of growing our food to ever larger companies. Companies who have little connection with the land that they work and no relationship to the community where the food is sold. Is that where I want my money to go?

My kids are growing up in a generation that is the first that statistically will have a shorter life expectancy than their parents and in a time where the government advocates that kids eat fruit and vegetables while giving subsidies to commodity crops that get turned into junk (aka high fructose corn syrup).

Everyday we use millions of barrels of fossil fuel to ship food from halfway across the country. We are going to run out of them eventually, depending on fossil fuels to get our food is not something we will we able to continue to do. Produce from Texas and California will someday be a thing of the past.

So we start thinking of doing things different, which usually in our minds equals what we will have to give up(soda, processed food, etc). This book gives new perspective to eating locally. What I can't eat...No, eating is about comfort, nourishment, and delicious smells. We should enjoy it. But restraint=indulgence. When we wait for the season, we taste things that are the freshest and at the peak of their flavor. We shouldn't settle for tastless tomatoes in December, but change our meal plans to accomodate what's in season, and learn to store things to have them out of season. Also, when we eat things that are homemade instead of processed and shipped, we enjoy a superior product!

Additionally, the varieties of fruits and vegetables companies pick, are usually just a few varieties chosen because they look nice on shelves, keep a long time, or transport easily. But relying on just a few varieties makes us more suseptable to pests, disease, and famine. Variety is mother nature's way of ensuring the survival of a species. Using just one variety goes against the evolutionary change necessary for survival.

So, will we allow companies to control the quality of the product we receive? Will we allow them to be in control of the seeds? Will we start to make changes in our food system now, or wait until fossil fuels run out and we are forced to make them? I, for one, will not.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

La vaca Lola

Thinking about cows today. We went to pick up a fourth of a cow from the meat locker from a local farmer. Mostly grass fed, but finished on some oats. Excited to have the freezer stocked up with local, natural meat! Chickens and beef! Won't hardly ever have to buy any meat at the store!

However, this is what Chili was thinking about. She's also had cows on the brain. There's a couple of kid songs on Youtube that she's been watching. This is what she thought we were going to get today. I think she was kinda bummed. La vaca Lola seems a little more fun.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Fermented Ginger Carrots

My first experience with fermented veggies. And YUM, I will be making these again, as well as trying out some other kinds of ferments.
I used:
2 c of grated carrots, tightly packed
1/2 T of freshly grated ginger
1 T sea salt
Mix all ingredients, and press or pound to release the juices. Put in a mason jar, and press until the juices cover the carrots. Leave at least an inch at the top of the jar. Cover tightly, and leave at room temp for about 3 days. Then put in cold storage or the top shelf of the fridge. I have especially liked eating them with black beans and eggs. They have greatly improved my digestion of beans ;)